e-Ariana - Todays Afghan News
 Home 
 News 
 Articles 
 Cartoons 
 Feedback 
 Opinion  
 Contact Us  
 An Ariana Media Publication 07/22/2014
 Peace Talks With the Taliban

The New York Times, Editorial
10/05/2012
By John Wendle

[Printer Friendly Version]

American military commanders long ago concluded that the Afghan war could only end in a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, not a military victory. But now the generals and civilian officials say even this hope is unrealistic before 2015 — after American and coalition troops are withdrawn. They are, instead, trying to set the stage for eventual peace talks between the Afghan government and the insurgency sometime after their departure.

President Obama’s failure to make headway in talks with the Taliban is a serious setback. Of course, persuading militants to negotiate a peace deal was always a daunting challenge. But the Obama administration has not been persistent enough in figuring out how to initiate talks with a resilient, brutal insurgency that continues to carry out deadly attacks against American and NATO forces.

During the 2010 surge, when the United States added 33,000 troops to the 68,000 in Afghanistan and put maximum military pressure on the Taliban, the administration was conflicted and too cautious about pressing for talks. Top generals resisted negotiations, saying the focus should be on military gains. Even after the administration decided in February 2011 to pursue talks, it took officials months to agree on the details of their approach.

The talks between the United States and the Taliban began early this year but soon collapsed when the administration, faced with bipartisan opposition in Congress, could not complete a proposed prisoner swap. The Taliban wanted five of their leaders released from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for the sole American held by the insurgents, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The risky deal was supposed to be a confidence-building mechanism to encourage more serious talks. But its collapse has made talks even harder.

The Taliban are internally divided and unwilling to meet Washington’s demands to sever all ties to Al Qaeda, renounce violence and accept the commitments to political and human rights in Afghanistan’s Constitution. Pakistan has long played a destructive role, enabling Taliban groups and refusing to support negotiations. Even a more basic outreach to the Taliban — the so-called reintegration program that seeks to get lower-level fighters to lay down their arms — has enticed only 5,000 of an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 insurgents off the battlefield.

Still, the United States has not and should not give up completely on a negotiated solution or at least some movement toward reconciliation. And it can’t wait until 2014 or later. Although there are no formal talks under way, there are contacts between the Taliban and Afghans and others. Pakistan recently urged the insurgents to join the political process and agreed to help Washington vet potential new Taliban interlocutors. It shouldn’t take long to see if Pakistan’s Army is serious.

The 2014 presidential election is critical to any peace deal. One idea under discussion: an interim agreement under which the Afghan opposition, the Taliban and others might endorse minimum objectives rejecting Al Qaeda and supporting an inclusive political system. The goal would be to elect a broadly accepted new president better suited to lead than Hamid Karzai, whom the Taliban considers an American puppet and resists reform.

Given Afghanistan’s history, it’s hard to be optimistic. But with American troops leaving Afghanistan, there should be an interest in advancing a political system that insurgents might see as an alternative to armed conflict.

Back to Top



Other Stories:


Has Afghan election fraud controversy been defused?
The Christian Science Monitor (06/25/2014)

Moscow’s Afghan Endgame
The Diplomat (06/25/2014)

Apologize to people, MPs asks Abdullah
Pajhwok (06/25/2014)

The Men Who Run Afghanistan
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

After Karzai
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

IEC secretary announces resignation
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

IECC spurns Abdullah’s claim; hails UN intervention
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

Afghan election crisis: 'stuffed sheep' recordings suggest large-scale fraud
The Guardian (06/23/2014)

Foreign spies trading on poll crisis: People
Pajhwok (06/22/2014)

Election commission office closed in Kunduz due to security threats
Khaama Press (06/22/2014)

Afghan Leader Backs U.N. Election Role
The New York Times (06/21/2014)

Tensions mount over Afghan vote, protest held in Kabul
Reuters (06/21/2014)

Hundreds protest alleged Afghan election fraud
The Associated Press (06/21/2014)

Afghan Presidential Election Takes Dangerous Turn
The Huffington Post (06/21/2014)

20,000 Heratis being sent to Iran for work
Pajhwok (12/27/2013)

At Kabul airport, exodus of U.S. aid goes on
The Washington Post (12/27/2013)

Haqqani Network leaders sexually abuse teenager boys
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Unemployment, Crime Rising Ahead Of Troop Pullout
Tolo (12/27/2013)

British army head warns Taliban could retake key territory in south
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Election Officials Emphasize Impartial Surveys
Tolo (12/27/2013)

A Complete US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Be 'A Complete Catastrophe' For Civilian Aid
Reuters (12/27/2013)

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014
NPR (12/27/2013)

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia Are the World's Most Corrupt Countries, With China in the Middle
businessweek.com (12/04/2013)

Poetry of Betrayal: Afghan Elections and Transitional Justice
Beacon Reader (10/25/2013)

Couple beheaded in Helmand province for having love affair
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

US senator says no aid for Afghanistan unless security deal finalized
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

Would-be child bombers detained: NDS
Pajhwok (10/25/2013)

Afghanistan
PJ (10/24/2013)

The Afghan dead find a list
Inter Press Service (10/24/2013)

10 runners shortlisted in 2014 presidential race
Pajhwok (10/24/2013)


Back to Top